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Israeli Primaries, Palestinian Elections

09 December 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

The Likud primaries are over, the Knesset list now chosen.  The top 40 candidates (who have a reasonable chance of being elected) are further to the right than PM Sharon, at least when confronting the issue of a Palestinian state.  Moreover Foreign Minister Netanyahu has a good eight to ten solid supporters amongst them, thereby halting any move by the Likud to the center.

Today the Labor Party chooses its candidates with 110,000 party members going to the primary polls to make the selection.  The Likud ballots were only cast by the 2,900 central committee members and were characterized as not democratic enough by critics, especially in Labor.  Amram Mitzna, the Labor prime ministerial candidate has characterized the results as very revealing of true Likud aims of never accepting a Palestinian state.

Such comments may be going a bit far but no doubt the Likud has shifted rightwards.  The question remains whether Labor will continue to shift leftwards, a move begun with Mitzna’s victory over Benyamin Ben Eliezer.  If so, the center ‘floating vote’ may be left a bit homeless on issues of foreign policy and defense.  Candidates from both parties have shown a fair amount of democracy and no small dose of populism.

And to top it off last night Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat announced the cancellation of the January 20th elections and pending reforms to take place in the PA, citing Israeli occupation of the Area A cities as the reason for the stillborn ballot.

He knows Israel will not leave the Palestinian cities until the terror campaign is called off.  Next month Arafat will be in power for seven years, well beyond his original mandate.

It looks like he has decided to be ‘president’ for life.